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Thursday, April 19
D.C. puts quite some celebrating into Jazz Appreciation Month, also known in some quarters as #JAZZApril. It’s the month in which the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra celebrates its birthday, for example. Blues Alley often does special programming, and of course the month ends with the Calvin Jones Big Band Festival, which we’ll talk about next week. Tangential to this last, though, is the annual spring concert presented by the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, the baby of longtime Howard professor and virtuoso trumpeter Fred Irby and the gestational habitat of an impressive array of jazz’s finest talents. The HUJE’s annual concert often features the a capella ensemble Afro Blue as well—or a jazz celebrity guest. This year, it features both, with Balitmorean saxophone legend Gary Bartz joining in the festivities. There will also be a special citation given to another great Baltimorean jazz man, Charles Funn. The concert begins at 12:40 p.m. at Howard University’s Ira Aldridge Theater, 2455 6th St. NW. Free.
Friday, April 20
Say, kids—it’s Friday night and you’re out and about. You want to go someplace where you can get good food, excellent draft beer, and a killer double bill of jazz. Don’t you? Of course you do. Well, here is something that should satisfy you. Jojo’s Friday night programming begins with a trio featuring Brian Settles on tenor saxophone, Luke Stewart on bass, and Trae Crudup on drums. All three lean in experimental directions, on the one hand; on the other, all three can also play anything, so be prepared to be unprepared. That trio is the opener; the closer is a quartet that features (alto/soprano) saxophone colossus Marshall Keys, keyboardist Federico Gonzalez Pena, bassist Michael Bowie, and drummer Mark Prince—an astonishing, and astonishingly hip, quartet that will melt your ears and your brain. It’s a ton of music—three sets each—and it’s cheap! The evening begins at 5:30 at Jojo, 1518 U St. NW. $5.
Saturday, April 21
Yes, Ravi Coltrane is influenced by the playing of his father, John Coltrane. Just like every other tenor and soprano saxophonist (among others) of the past 60 years has been. But Coltrane the Younger has determinedly set out on his own path. For one thing, he’s developed a vocabulary of staccato attack; short, discrete phrases; he’s also tinged his tenor tone with a special, unique sort of razor-edge, as well as a low growl that is almost as mindful of Bubber Miley’s plunger-muted trumpet in the Duke Ellington Orchestra as it is of the saxophone tradition. (It does have a place in the latter tradition, though; Illinois Jacquet comes to mind, if subtly so.) He’s also got a very interesting quintet in tow: the swinging pianist Glenn Zaleski and the funky rhythm men Noah Garabedian (bass) and Nate Smith (drums). So—whatever it is you’re expecting when you see the name “Coltrane?” Don’t. The Ravi Coltrane Quartet performs at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $40.